Reflective Comments for the January 2018 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

Continuing a practice I most recently iterated at the end of the November 2017 session at DeVry University in San Antonio, comments below offer impressions of class performance among students enrolled in ENGL 216 during the January 2017 term at that institution. After a brief outline of the course and statistics about it, impressions and implications for further teaching are discussed.

Students enrolled in ENGL 216: Technical Writing during the November 2017 session were asked to complete a number of assignments in quick succession. Many, and the weightiest, related to the overall course project; others were homework meant to practice skills used in the workplace and in later stages of the course project. Those assignments and their prescribed point-values arePercentage Breakdown

  • Online Discussions
    • Weeks 1-5, 20 points each
    • Weeks 6 and 7, 80 points each
  • Homework Assignments
    • Weeks 1-4, 50 points each
  • Course Project
    • Topic Proposal- 20 points
    • Annotated Sources- 50 points
    • Outline and Back Matter- 50 points
    • First Draft- 70 points
    • Front Matter- 40 points
    • Final Draft- 100 points
    • Presentation- 60 points
  • Final Exam- 150 points
  • Total- 1000 points

As before, most assignments were assessed by means of rubrics provided by the institution. Some few were assessed holistically, with assessment being conducted more gently in light of less formality.

The section met on Wednesdays from 1800-2150 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 7
  • Average class score: 693.429/1000 (D)
    • Standard deviation: 251.505
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 1
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 2

Unlike previous sessions, attendance was assessed as part of classroom activities; a component of the discussion grading each week was given to in-class attendance and participation. Consequently, attendance data is available; on average, 2.625/7 students attended each class meeting, with 35 total absences noted. The absences, and their concomitant rate of non-submission, exerted negative influence on overall student performance.

On the whole, I think the session was a good one. Despite the lower average score–occasioned by student non-attendance and non-submission–I had students doing better work overall. I am unsure what else I can do to get students to show up to class, but I am doing quite a bit for those who do attend when they have signed up to do so. I expect, then, that I will continue several practices from the session into future courses.

This session, I remembered to bring “real-world” examples of various types of writing into my classroom frequently, and the students who attended seemed to derive benefit from my doing so. I am already making sure to continue the practice in my current teaching, and, as I have been advised I will be teaching ENGL 216 again, I know I will be working to replicate the January 2018 session’s success.

Some concerns still persist from previous teaching, however. Foremost is that I remain prone to tangential discussions; the idea that I will be able to set them aside is laughable. If and as I continue to teach, they will continue to have to be accounted for and accepted. But they seemed at least to have been informative for students this time, which marks a welcome change.

As ever, I remain grateful for the opportunity to continue teaching. I look forward to having a few more such.

 

Class Report: ENGL 216, 21 February 2018

For the final meeting of the session, class time was given over wholly to the course’s institution-mandated final exam. No other activities were conducted on site, although the classroom, Rm. 107 of the San Antonio campus, was made available at the expected time, 1800.

The course roster listed seven students enrolled, unchanged since the last meeting; none attended. Student participation was as would be expected in such a circumstance. As noted in the previous report, office hours for the week were canceled against the instructor’s daughter’s birthday.

Class Report: ENGL 216, 14 February 2018

For the Valentine’s Day edition of the class, discussion opened with questions from the previous class meeting and before. It continued with notes about style and mechanics before examining an example of student work and a professional example. Further, assignments were discussed, such as

  • Course Project: Final Draft, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 19 February 2018
  • Course Project: Presentation, to be submitted as a PowerPoint file before 0059 on 19 February 2018
  • Discussion posts, to be completed online before 0059 on 19 February 2018

Students were afforded time to complete class surveys, as requested by administration. Students were also reminded that the Final Exam will take up class next week; the classroom will be open at the regular class time, although it may be closed early if no students attend on-site.

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 107 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed seven students enrolled, unchanged since the last meeting; two attended, assessed informally. Student participation was reasonably good. No students attended office hours Monday from approx. 1800 to approx. 1900 online (office hours are scheduled to 2000, but an hour in, with no attendees, they were ended).

Students are advised that office hours for Week 8, which would have occurred on 19 February 2018 at 1800, are cancelled in favor of the instructor’s daughter’s birthday.

Class Report: ENGL 216, 7 February 2018

After addressing some few procedural notes and questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of front matter, order of composition, and review. An example of earlier student work was treated at some length. Assignments were discussed, such as

  • Course Project: Front Matter, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 12 February 2018
  • Discussion posts, to be completed online before 0059 on 12 February 2018

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 107 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed seven students enrolled, unchanged since the last meeting; three attended, assessed informally. Student participation was reasonably good. No students attended office hours Monday from approx. 1800 to approx. 1900 online. (Office hours are scheduled to approx. 2000, but after an hour without student attendance, they were closed.)

Class Report: ENGL 216, 31 January 2018

After addressing some few procedural notes and questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of graphics and their integration into documents. Some review of paratext was needed, and ethics of graphics received some comment. Class time was spent interrogating an example previously emailed to students. Attention was also paid to upcoming assignments.

Students are reminded that the following assignments are coming due:

  • Course Project: First Draft, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 5 February 2018
  • Discussion posts, to be completed online before 0059 on 5 February 2018

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 107 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed seven students enrolled, unchanged since the last meeting; two attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. No students attended office hours Monday from approx. 1800 to approx. 1900 online. (Office hours are scheduled to approx. 2000, but after an hour without student attendance, they were closed.)

Class Report; ENGL 216, 24 January 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of formality and complexity of reports, as well as persuasive techniques. Class focus was on applying principles from the textbook and lecture to in-class examples, with the idea that examining application will enhance student performance. Attention was also paid to upcoming assignments.

Students are reminded that the following assignments are coming due:

  • Course Project: Outline, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 29 January 2018
  • Week 4 Homework, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 29 January 2018
  • Discussion posts, to be completed online before 0059 on 29 January 2018

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 107 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed seven students enrolled, unchanged since the last meeting; two attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. No students attended office hours Monday from approx. 1800 to approx. 1900 online. (Office hours are scheduled to approx. 2000, but after an hour without student attendance, they were closed.)

Class Report: ENGL 216, 17 January 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of procedural writing, research and documentation, and ethics. Class focus was on applying principles from the textbook and lecture to in-class examples, with the idea that examining application will enhance student performance. Attention was also paid to upcoming assignments.

Students are reminded that the following assignments are coming due:

  • Course Project: Annotations, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 22 January 2018
  • Week 3 Homework, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 22 January 2018
  • Discussion posts, to be completed online before 0059 on 22 January 2018

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 107 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed seven students enrolled, unchanged since the last meeting; four attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. No students attended office hours Monday from approx. 1800 to approx. 1900 online. (Office hours are scheduled to approx. 2000, but after an hour without student attendance, they were closed.)

Class Report: ENGL 216, 10 January 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to theses, as well as concerns of document design and other paratextual features. Class focus was on applying principles from the textbook and lecture to in-class examples, with the idea that examining application will enhance student performance. Attention was also paid to upcoming assignments.

Students are reminded that the following assignments are coming due:

  • Course Project: Topic Selection, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 15 January 2018
  • Week 2 Homework, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 15 January 2018
  • Discussion posts, to be completed online before 0059 on 15 January 2018

Students should continue (or begin) reading for the Week 3 Course Project deliverable.

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 107 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed seven students enrolled, unchanged since the last meeting; five attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. No students attended office hours Monday from approx. 1800 to approx. 1900 online. (Office hours are scheduled to approx. 2000, but after an hour without student attendance, they were closed.)

Class Report: ENGL 216, 3 January 2018

For the first course meeting of the session, discussion focused on introductions to the course, instructor, and basic concepts of technical writing.  Assignments in the short and long term were treated, as well, and practice on upcoming homework was offered.

Students are reminded that the following assignments are coming due:

  • Week 1 Homework, to be submitted online as a Word document before 0059 on 8 January 2017
  • Discussion posts, to be completed online before 0059 on 8 January 2017

Students are also urged to start work on selecting a topic for the course project and to begin reading peer-reviewed sources for upcoming course project work.

Class met slightly differently than scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 106 of the San Antonio campus (the regular room, 107, was out of order but should be open for the next class meeting). The course roster listed seven students enrolled; four attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. Office hours, normally Mondays from approx. 1800 to approx. 2000 online, were preempted by the recent holiday.

Initial Comments for the January 2018 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

Not too long ago, I signed my teaching contract for the January 2018 session at DeVry University in San Antonio, Texas, which extends from 1 January through 25 February 2018. I am pleased to note that I will be working with a single set of students across the eight-week span, a group enrolled in ENGL 216: Technical Writing. I was assigned the course during the November 2017 session, and I found it a relatively congenial experience. That I get to approach the class again pleases me.

It does so in part because I will be trying something new to me in the coming session. I have noticed an unfortunate decline in attendance, as I have attested in blog posts throughout my time teaching at DeVry. It is my hope that doing more to put my lectures and the like online for students to access will improve student performance, and I hope also to guide my students more directly than I have tended to do in the past. (I recall having better results with them when I have defined tasks more narrowly. But that may be faulty recall, admittedly.)

Too, I can use the practice in developing materials. I have not been attending to this webspace nearly so much as I ought to, and having more to put here will be of benefit…